ACTOR Peter Sallis has died peacefully at the age of 96 with his family by his side, his agents have announced.
He was best known for his appearances in Last of the Summer Wine and also voicing the character of Wallace in Wallace and Gromit.
He died with his family at his side at Denville Hall - a care home for actors in Northwood, London - on Friday, reports The Sun.
Jonathan Altaras Associates released a statement saying: "It is with sadness that we announce that our client Peter Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at Denville Hall on Friday, June 2."
Sallis became a household name in the UK as mild-mannered Norman Clegg in the comedy Last Of The Summer Wine, Britain's longest-running series.
But his role playing loveable inventor Wallace in Nick Park's animated films made his voice known around the world. Wallace and Gromit scooped two Oscars and Sallis was delighted to have such success late in life.
"It is pleasing knowing millions are going to see your work and enjoy it. To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heartwarming," he said. "To have a legacy like this is very comforting. I am very lucky to have been involved."
He was famous for his role in Last Of The Summer Wine, which started life as a Comedy Playhouse pilot in 1972 and became a series in 1973. Sallis was part of the original cast, playing mild-mannered Norman Clegg.
Other actors came and went but the classic line-up featured Sallis as Cleggy, Bill Owen as Compo and Brian Wilde as Foggy Dewhurst.
The Yorkshire-based series turned the trio, and Kathy Staff, who played Nora Batty, into household names.
When the show began, Sallis already had more than 25 years of acting experience under his belt.
Born in Twickenham, southwest London, his father was a bank manager and his mother was a housewife. He showed no interest in acting at school and his only link to the stage was his grandmother, who ran a theatrical boarding house in Northampton.
On leaving school he followed his father into a banking career with Barclays and might have stayed there for life were it not for the Second World War.
Sallis signed up for the RAF but failed his aircrew medical and instead became a radio instructor based at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire for the duration of the war.
It was at Cranwell that he was asked to appear in a performance of Hay Fever in 1943.
He caught the acting bug and when he was demobbed in 1946 he won a scholarship to Rada.
His first TV role came in 1947, playing Quince in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In his early career he concentrated on theatre work and appeared opposite Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Orson Welles.
During the 1950s and 1960s he worked steadily in a succession of TV shows, with minor parts in episodes of Z Cars, The Avengers and Doctor Who.
Sallis married an actor, Elaine Usher, in the 1950s and they had a son, Crispian, before divorcing in 1965.
This story originally appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.